Over the years many beautiful and historic pictures have been collected in every season in Brownhelm. Enjoy an Armchair Tour of historic homes (some pictures from before and after) and pictures from many iconic scenes around Brownhelm. To see a picture of a house is of interest … but you will learn about the men and women that lived in them as well! The next time you drive by one of these homes they may be of more interest to you after you know their story. Come, relax and enjoy a journey as you drive through historic Brownhelm. Maybe you can add some more stories and history!
Doors open at 6 pm. The business meeting runs from 6:30-7 pm. Social time starts at 7 pm and the historical program begins at 7:30 pm.
The Brownhelm Historical Association (aka BHA) was formed in March 1993 as an organization dedicated to preserving the rich history of the people, places and events of the area. Over the past 30 years the BHA has managed to reclaim the Lost Cemetery on Lake Rd. in Vermilion, restore the German Reformed Church on Claus Road, and preserve the Historic Brownhelm School and Museum on North Ridge Rd. The group regularly puts on community events and historical programs. The BHA meets on the first Wednesday of each month except for January, July, and August.
Frost had killed off most of the crops in New England in May of 1816, the “Year without Summer”. The result was regional malnutrition, starvation, and epidemic. Spurred on by this natural disaster, in the fall of 1816 William Alverson traveled with Henry Brown and several young men from Massachusetts to northeast Ohio where Brown selected a tract of land, about a mile square, in the northeast corner near the lake shore. Brown and Alverson were accompanied by Peter P. Pease, Charles Whittlesey and William Lincoln. The men helped to erect a cabin for Brown and began improvement of the land, as did Seth Morse and Rensselaer Cooley. Col. Brown, as he was formerly called, returned to Massachusetts leaving his men to make preparations for other families moving out to the township the following year. Morse and Cooley returned to the East for the winter. Alverson, Lincoln, Pease and Whittlesey remained.
- Emily Louisa- born April 30, 1820 in Brownhelm, Ohio; died September 2, 1882 in Lee, Massachusetts
- Mary Lucinia - born September 24, 1821; died April 18, 1840 in Stockbridge, Massachusetts
- Daniel Fairchild - born February 19, 1823; died December 5, 1893 in Canandaigun, New York (On June 15, 1848 Daniel Fairchild Alverson married Sarah Cowdery (1822-1906) in Rochester, Monroe Co., New York. Sarah was the daughter of the celebrated frontier printer and editor, Benjamin Franklin Cowdery (1790-1867).)
- Elizabeth Elvira - born February 8, 1825; died April 1895 in Brownhelm, Ohio
- Frederick William - born December 14, 1829; died August 1894 in Canadaigun, New York
- Julia Harriet - born March 17, 1834, Stockbridge, Massachusetts; died March 8, 1861 in Lee, Massachusetts
Harbourtown Fine Arts Center is located at 736 Main Street in downtown Vermilion, Ohio.
Harbourtown Fine Arts Center exists to expand the cultural recognition of Vermilion and the surrounding areas. Being a relatively small community, we hope to reach those with an interest in the arts.
Vermilion's original Town Hall and Opera House is a historical treasure. Vermilion Town Hall was built in 1883 and features the original meeting and social hall, three smaller rooms which were used as concessions and administrative offices, and something incredible upstairs...
The upstairs boasts a beautiful performance space, the Vermilion Opera House. Complete with original curtains, polished wooden chairs, ornate woodwork, and stained glass windows, this theater is one of a kind. With the help of our community, Harbourtown Fine Arts Center has plans to completely renovate the theater to make it available for our city to enjoy once more.
The woollybear wackiness all started more than three decades ago. Northeast Ohio TV weatherman Dick Goddard of Fox8 TV in Cleveland talked with some friends and co-workers about his idea of a celebration built around using the woollybear to forecast what kind of winter is ahead.
In 1972 the newly-elected officers of the Parent Teachers Association at the Firelands-Florence Township Elementary School in the tiny community of Birmingham in Erie County were looking around for a vehicle to raise funds. They heard about Goddard’s idea of a Woollybear Festival. They contacted him and offered to stage the festival with his help.
The first Woollybear Festival was held in Birmingham and attracted perhaps 2,000 people. The parade was short—just the Firelands High School Band, some boy scouts and the local fire department, along with personalities from TV8—and they decided to go around the parade route twice, just to make it look longer.
After eight years in Birmingham, the crowd at the event had grown to an estimated 15,000 and was causing gridlock on the highways into the tiny community, so it was decided to move it to a larger city. Thirteen towns and cities around northern Ohio expressed interest in hosting the ever-growing family-oriented event. Goddard and a committee of the original founders finally settled on the pretty resort city of Vermilion, only nine miles north of where the festival was born in Birmingham.
And the rest is history...
The common moth Pyrrharctia isabella is known by different common names at its two main life stages. The adult is the Isabella tiger moth and the larva is called the banded woolly bear. The larvae of many species of Arctiid moths are called "woolly bears" ("wooly bears", "woollybears") because of their long, thick, furlike setae. This species is black at both ends with a band of coppery red in the middle. The adult moth is dull yellow to orange with a robust, furry thorax and small head. Its wings have sparse black spotting and the proximal segments on its first pair of legs are bright reddish-orange.
The banded woolly bear larva emerges from the egg in the fall and overwinters in its caterpillar form. It survives winter freezes by producing a cryoprotectant in its tissues. Once the weather warms, the larva devours all the grass and weeds it can, pupates, and becomes an adult, which then lives through the summer. It is the larvae of this species which are the subject of common folklore, which has it that the forthcoming severity of a winter can be predicted by the amount of black on the caterpillar; this is the most familiar woolly bear in North America.
The setae of the woolly bear are not urticant, but they will play dead if picked up or disturbed.
The Lorain County Bicentennial Spaghetti Fundraiser Night takes place at German's Villa, 3330 Liberty Avenue in Vermilion, on October 19, 2023 from 6 pm to 9 pm. Join in a night of fun celebrating 200 years. The event will feature music, basket raffles and a 50/50 drawing.
Dinner will include all you can eat spaghetti, garlic bread, salad and a beverage. Tickets are $50 per person.
By 1852, both the lighthouse and the pier were in need of repair, a project that cost $3,000. Seven years later, in 1859, the lighthouse was rebuilt at a cost of $5,000. The new lighthouse was made of wood and topped with a whale oil lamp. The lamp’s flame was surrounded by red glass, resulting in a red beam that, with the help of a sixth-order Fresnel lens, was visible from Lake Erie. A man from the town looked after the lighthouse, lighting the lamp each evening and refueling it each morning.
Though the 1859 light was functional, it was not sturdy enough for long-term use. Both time and the lake’s elements took their toll on the wooden lighthouse, and by 1866, Congress had appropriated funds to build a new light, this time out of iron, on the west pier. The lighthouse was designed by a government architect and cast by a company in Buffalo, New York. A home for the future keeper was purchased in 1871, six years before the iron lighthouse was installed.
To cast the lighthouse, the ironworkers used sand molds of three tapering rings, octahedral in shape. The iron they used was from unpurchased Columbian smoothbore canons, obsolete after the Battle of Fort Sumter. As noted by Vermilion native Ernest Wakefield, “The iron, therefore, of the 1877 Vermilion lighthouse echoed and resonated with the terrible trauma of the War Between the States.”
Once the ironworkers in Buffalo had completed the casting of the lighthouse and ensured that all parts fit together correctly, the pieces of the lighthouse were loaded onto barges in the nearby Erie Canal. Hauled by mules, the barges reached Oswego, New York, in two weeks. From there, the lighthouse was transferred to the lighthouse tender Haze. The Haze, a steam-powered propeller vessel, departed Oswego on September 1, 1877 and headed west for the Welland Canal, where a series of 27 locks raised the boat to the water level of Port Colborne and onto Lake Erie. One must wonder why this circuitous route was taken when Buffalo, where the tower was cast, sits right on Lake Erie.
On its way to Vermilion, the Haze stopped at Cleveland Harbor, where it took on the lighthouse’s lantern, lumber and lime for building the foundation, and a crew to raise the lighthouse. Also loaded was a fifth-order Fresnel lens, which had been shipped to Cleveland by train. All that is known about the lens is that it was made by Barbier and Fenestre of Paris, France. Whether it was ordered specifically for the Vermilion lighthouse or recovered from the Erie Harbor Lighthouse, no one knows.
The 1877 lighthouse performed its duties faithfully for over half a century, shining its light for both commercial and pleasure boats. During this time, it was moved closer to the end of the pier (25 feet from the outer end), and survived multiple collisions with watercraft. Eventually it was put under the care of Lorain Lighthouse’s assistant keeper, and in the early 1920s, the Vermilion keeper’s home was sold to the local Masonic Lodge.
In the summer of 1929, Theodore and Ernest Wakefield, teenagers at the time, noticed that the Vermilion Lighthouse was leaning toward the river. Most likely, the lighthouse pier had suffered damage in an icy storm earlier that year. The Wakefield boys reported what they had seen to their father, Commodore Frederick William Wakefield, who contacted the U.S. Lighthouse Service in Cleveland. The U. S. Corps of Engineers came to Vermilion and determined that the light was indeed unstable. Within a week, the lighthouse had been dismantled. In its place, a steep-sided 18-foot steel pyramidal tower was erected. The new structure, called a "functional disgrace," continued to shine a red light, but since it was automated, no lighthouse keeper was needed.
Commodore Wakefield offered to purchase the old lighthouse and move it to his property, Harbor View, but his request was denied. Instead, the cast-iron pieces were loaded up and hauled away. The residents of Vermilion were sad to see their beloved lighthouse go. No one told them what the fate of the old lighthouse would be, and its whereabouts were unknown until many years later.
Ted Wakefield, one of the young men who had noticed the lighthouse leaning in 1929, had very fond memories of Vermilion’s past and its lighthouse. As an adult, he put his efforts into encouraging downtown Vermilion to maintain its historical 19th century appearance. His childhood home, Harbor View, was donated to Bowling Green State University and later sold to the Great Lakes Historical Society. Built of gravel from Lake Erie in 1909, the old house became the main structure of the society's Inland Seas Maritime Museum. This gave Ted an idea. He decided that a replica of the 1877 lighthouse would be the perfect complement to it.
Ted spearheaded a fund-raising campaign to build the new lighthouse. Funds were raised by mailing out brochures, writing articles in the local paper, and collecting donations at the museum. By 1991, Ted and his fellow fund-raisers had collected $55,000---enough to build a 16-foot replica of Vermilion’s 1877 lighthouse. Architect Robert Lee Tracht of Huron prepared the plans, which were approved by the city, county, and state authorities, but only after a long delay. Even the U.S. Coast Guard approved the plans for making the light a working lighthouse, right down to its steady red light. Again, a company in Buffalo fabricated the lighthouse.
Ground was broken for the new lighthouse on July 24, 1991, by Mayor Alex Angney. The 25,000-pound base of the replica lighthouse, measuring 15 feet in diameter, was brought to Vermilion on a flatbed truck. Cranes were used to place it onto the foundation. According to rumors, before the base was attached to the foundation, an 1877 gold piece was placed under the vertex of the octahedron that would point true north. It seems only fitting that a piece of 1877 be part of the new lighthouse’s foundation.
The tower was raised in less than three hours on October 23, 1991. The lantern and roof were attached the next day, and a fifth-order Fresnel lens (owned by the museum) was mounted. The tower was electrically wired, and an incandescent 200-watt lamp with Edison-base was installed. A red glass cylinder surrounded the lamp to make the replica complete. The new Vermilion Lighthouse was dedicated on June 6, 1992, and is still operational today. It serves not only as part of the museum, but also as an active aid to navigation.
Shortly after their new light was built, the residents of Vermilion learned what had become of their original lighthouse. Amazingly, the structure had not been destroyed after its removal. In fact, it was still shining, and had been for the last 59 years.
Once the lighthouse had been dismantled in 1929, it was transported to Buffalo, New York, where it was renovated. Six years later, in 1935, the lighthouse was given a new home and a new charge---on Lake Ontario. Sitting off Cape Vincent at the entrance to the Saint Lawrence Seaway, the Vermilion Lighthouse was given a fifth-order Fresnel lens and renamed East Charity Shoal Lighthouse. The light remains an active aid to navigation, with its modern optic (installed in 1992) displayed at a 52-foot focal plane
East Charity Shoal Lighthouse
This navigational buoy didn’t prevent all mishaps, as in October of 1912 the steamer Rock Ferry ran aground on East Charity Shoal, and tugs had to be dispatched in an attempt to free her. The Lighthouse Service eventually opted for a more permanent method of marking the shoal, and in May of 1934 newspapers in upstate New York advertised that sealed proposals would be accepted by the Superintendent of Lighthouses in Buffalo for a “timber crib-concrete superstructure” on East Charity Shoal.
The Walls Company was selected as the contractor for the project and had completed enough of the structure so that a temporary light was established on the south side of the crib on November 24, 1934. The foundation consisted of a fifty foot square crib, whose height varied from eleven to fourteen feet to fit the shoal. Constructed ashore in an inverted position, the crib was launched, righted, towed to the site, and sunk in place using stone and interlocking blocks of pre-cast concrete. A reinforced concrete slab was placed over the entire pier and atop this a one-story deckhouse, also of reinforced concrete and octagonal in form, was built to support an octagonal iron tower.
The octagonal iron tower at East Charity Shoal has the distinction of having served at two stations and on two different Great Lakes. It was first installed in 1877 at the end of a pier in Vermilion, Ohio to mark the entrance to the Vermilion River from Lake Erie. After the beacon had been in service for over fifty years, two teenage brothers, who lived next to the harbor, noticed that the lighthouse had developed a lean after the pier had been damaged by an ice storm. The father of the two boys contacted the Lighthouse Service, and not long thereafter the heavy tower was replaced by a much lighter automated tower.
The residents of Vermilion were fond of the old red and white pierhead beacon, and when the octagonal tower was taken away it was as if a member of the community had been lost. Years later, after his childhood home had been converted into the Inland Seas Maritime Museum, Ted Wakefield, one of the two boys who had noticed the lean, championed a fundraising drive to build a replica of the 1877 tower for the museum grounds. His dream was realized during the summer of 1991, when a crane lifted the newly cast tower onto its prepared foundation overlooking Lake Erie.
For years, Vermilionites did not know the fate of the 1877 lighthouse. Most thought it had ended up on the scrap heap, but the real answer was revealed to Vermilion when Olin M. Stevens, of Columbus, Ohio, visited the Inland Seas Maritime Museum. Stevens came seeking additional information on his grandfather, Olin W. Stevens, who was a third generation lighthouse keeper, and when he learned the museum was trying to determine the fate of the 1877 tower, he realized he had just recently found the answer. While searching for information on his ancestors to give to his grandchildren, Stevens opened an old trunk and discovered a newspaper article that told about the service of his grandfather at Tibbetts Point Lighthouse. A portion of the article read, “Altho this is his first duty on Lake Ontario, Charity Shoal light, visible from the Tibbett's Point headland, is an old friend. The tower upholding the gas lamp on Charity formerly was under Keeper Stevens’ charge at Vermilion, near Lorain. Victim of an ice shove, it was salvaged and taken to Buffalo, where it was assigned to Charity.” The mystery had been solved.
Although the East Charity Shoal Lighthouse was never manned, it was still responsible for saving the life of at least one individual. Dr. Joseph G. Reidel, a 37-year-old physician from Syracuse, was sailing on Lake Ontario with his wife and Dr. and Mrs. W. Hall of Watertown on August 5, 1955, when winds estimated at 70mph struck their dragon class sloop. Dr. Reidel was washed overboard by the wind-whipped sea and for an hour was able to tread water and keep sight of the sailboat while his wife and friends desperately tried to rescue him or get him a lifejacket. Neither effort was successful, and Dr. Reidel was presumed lost. As it started to get dark, Reidel noticed the glint of a lighthouse and decided to swim towards it. Reidel swallowed a lot of water and suffered leg cramps for a stretch of forty minutes, but as he struggled to stay afloat he kept repeating to himself, “This can’t happen to me but it will unless I get there.”
After more than eight hours in the water, Reidel pulled himself up onto the pier at East Charity Shoal. Exhausted, he soon fell asleep and was rescued at 5:30 a.m. the following morning by three fishermen. Reidel was eventually taken to Cape Vincent, where he was reunited with his wife and friends.
Though alone and surrounded by a vast body of water, East Charity Shoal Lighthouse will always be cherished by the residents of Vermilion and a grateful physician from Syracuse.
In July of 2008, the East Charity Shoal Lighthouse was declared surplus by the Coast Guard and pursuant to the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000 was "made available at no cost to eligible entities defined as federal, state and local agencies, non-profit corporations, educational agencies, or community development organizations for education, park, recreation, cultural, or historic preservation purposes."
Copyright 2001-2008 Lighthousefriends.com
Discover Vermilion, Ohio's parks and beaches. Numerous parks are located in and around Vermilion featuring a variety of activities and natural beauty.
A refreshing place to relax in downtown Vermilion. The beautifully landscaped Exchange Park is located at the northeast corner of Liberty Avenue and Main Street in the shape of a triangle. It was here that the village founding fathers erected a small clapboard warehouse. One room was leased to area farmers and was used for selling or exchanging products. A path wanders down to the river below, where the fish shanties once stood. Visitors will find seasonal plantings, trees, sitting areas and swings for children. A fantastic view of the Vermilion River awaits you. The park is home to a public comfort station housed in an historic building that once served as Vermilion's Police Department.
Locals and visitors alike enjoy many a concert and festive events at Vermilion's "town square." Weddings are always popular at the grand gazebo. Victory Park is located at the northeast corner of Main Street and Ohio Street. The Park was formerly referred to as “The Village Green” where people came to relax and meet with friends and neighbors. Across the street sits the historic Old Town Hall and Vermilion's famous Auction House. Beautiful rose gardens and other plantings will enchant you. An historic Firelands marker details the history of the area. This park continues to be the most widely used in the area, hosting the concessions for the annual Fish Festival, Woollybear Festival and Local Market. Locals and tourists enjoy “Concerts in the Park” at the Gazebo on Sunday evenings in July and August.
Main Street Beach
Main Street Beach is next to the Inland Seas Maritime Museum at the north end of Main Street. The beach features an observation platform and the Vermilion Lighthouse. Let the cool waters of Lake Erie splash on your feet as you stroll on the sandy beach. Stay awhile and watch a beautiful sunset over the lake at Main Street Beach.
Friendship ParkFriendship Park offers performance venues and maritime history in this beautiful pocket park in Downtown Vermilion. The park is located on the northwest corner of Liberty Avenue and Grand Street across from Ritter Public Library.
Located approximately ¼ of a mile to the west of the city, on Lake Erie, this park was donated by the Bessie Sherod Family - a founding family of Vermilion. Featuring green space, trees, natural areas and beaches, Sherod overlooks the breathtaking Lake Erie. This park boasts 2 ball diamonds, 2 picnic shelters, 2 playgrounds, a soccer field and a walking track. Plans have been created to develop this park into a "passive" park.
Hanover Square ParkNestled in Harbour Town, this park is located at the corner of Ferry and Grand Streets. The park includes a swing set and benches. Located adjacent to the Ritter Public Library, this park attracts many visitors with a book in their hands.
West Breeze Park
Located off of Rt. 60, this pocket park provides a pavilion and playground along with a sand volleyball court and soccer field.
Showse Park & Beach
Located in Vermilion on the Lake, this park contains a beach, two ball diamonds, a basketball court, tennis courts, a soccer field, a pavilion and a playground. Located along the shore of Lake Erie, Showse Park gives people the opportunity to stop for a rest or to enjoy the boats and scenes of the waterfront.
This park is used by thousands of people each year. Sailorway Complex includes 5 ball diamonds, 5 tennis courts, soccer field, basketball court, football stadium, restroom and concessions stand. These facilities are along Sailorway Drive, which is accessed from Rt. 60 and from Sanford Street.
Vermilion Skateboard Park
Located on the corner of Douglas Street and Devon Drive, this facility is open dawn to dusk and has ramps, bars for sliding and can be used by those with bikes and and skateboards.
Schoepfle Garden is a truly unique park in the Lorain County Metro Parks system—70 acres of botanical gardens and natural woodland bordered on one side by the Vermilion River. The garden features collections of rhododendrons, roses, cannas, hostas, various shade plants, along with many varieties of shrubs, topiaries and trees. Whether you choose to follow one of the guided tours available throughout the year, or just wander freely at your own pace, it's a wonderful way to spend a morning or afternoon. Be sure to bring a camera!
The formal garden is highlighted by a wide central path lined in part with hedges and topiaries. Side paths wind through colorful arrays of exotic flowers, dogwood and European beech trees. The garden’s colors change every few weeks in the warmer months as new species come into bloom. This is truly a place to been seen over and over again. The shade garden runs alongside the formal garden, draped in a cool canopy of pines. You’ll find a nice contrast here to the bright and open areas. Various species of shrubs and shade plants line the floor including ferns, hostas and astilbes. There are places to sit and relax, and plenty of room to roam.
In contrast to both the formal and shade gardens are the nearly fifty acres of natural woodlands that lie between the gardens and the Vermilion River. This natural area offers a seasonal display of indigenous trees and wildflowers—a great place for wildflower hikes, birding and tracking. There’s plenty of wildlife here as in other parks in the Lorain County Metro Park system, including deer, wild turkey and fox.
Schoepfle Garden is off State Route 113 on Market Street in Birmingham, Ohio. Take St. Rt. 58 north to St. Rt. 113. Go west on St. Rt. 113 to Birmingham. Cross bridge over Vermilion River and turn onto the first road on the left, which is Market Street. The garden is on the left.
Vermilion River Reservation
Spanning two adjacent areas separated by the Vermilion River—Mill Hollow on one side and Bacon Woods on the other—this immaculate park is a favorite of picnickers, naturalists and anyone who just wants to enjoy its natural beauty. If you're looking to picnic in a beautiful place with plenty of activities for both adults and children, this is an ideal place to come. With 273 picnic tables and four reservable shelters, the Vermilion Reservation draws over 230,000 people a year—making it the number one picnic area in the Lorain County Metro Parks system. It's not surprising considering the spotless maintenance, plenty of open space, 5 miles of wooded trails, a playground and two ponds that attract visiting waterfowl year-round.
Surrounded by tall trees and a split-rail fence, you can't miss the picturesque Bacon House Museum and Carriage Barn at Mill Hollow. During museum hours you can walk through the original settler Benjamin Bacon's house, built in 1845. The museum features themes of daily living and puts an emphasis on the community life in Brownhelm, including the profound effect the railroad had on the economy and on people's lives. Just next to the Bacon House Museum, the Carriage Barn offers visitors information about the park and hosts nature programs throughout the year. A large rustic meeting room can be reserved for groups and includes a kitchen and large fireplace.
There's more than natural beauty at Vermilion Reservation. Bacon woods hosts a sizable amphitheater for musical concerts during the warmer months, and the park in general features several special programs including the Annual Car Show (which shows over 1000 cars.) Perhaps the most striking feature of this reservation is the winding ribbon of shale cliffs carved by the Vermilion River. Millions of years old, these cliffs reveal layers of the past and drop bits of sandstone, shale and turtlerock along the riverbed. Since the Vermilion River has no industry along its banks, it is especially rich in wildlife. Aquatic life includes freshwater clams and several species of darters (small fish that feed along the bottom of the river) that turn brilliant colors during the mating season. Some insect species include mayflies, cadis flies and water pennies (beetle larvae that lie flat against a rock surface and look like pennies.)
The park naturally hosts a range of wildlife, but perhaps most singular at Vermilion River Reservation are the bald eagles. These magnificent creatures can be seen almost daily at Mill Hollow, perched in one of the tall trees near the center of the park. Other wildlife at the reservation is more typical of the area and includes Great Blue Heron, Greenback Heron and various geese and ducks. Wildflower lovers come from all over in spring and early summer to see the color and variety of these indigenous species which include Dutchman's britches and Blood Root along with a long list of other species found throughout northeast Ohio.
Rotary Centennial Park
This beautiful new addition to Vermilion's park system overlooks the Vermilion River under the historic water tower on West River Road in Harbour Town. This award winning park features flowering trees, plantings, benches, picnic tables and breathtaking views of the river. The site also features an historical marker plaque highlighting Vermilion's railroad history.
Community Swimming Pool
The Community Swimming Pool at 4846 Pineview Drive is typically open from Memorial Day to Labor Day, noon to 8 pm daily, weather permitting. Children 3 and under are free. Ages 4-17 $5.00. Ages 18-64 $6.00. Ages 65 and over are free. Membership: Vermilion Residents $250.00 for a family membership, $150.00 for an individual; Non-Residents $275.00 for a family membership, $175.00 for an individual. Call the pool at (440) 967-9071 for more information.
Nokomis ParkNokomis Park offers Lake Erie beach access at the end of Minnie Wa Wa Street off Liberty Avenue.
McGarvey's LandingMcGarvey's Landing features breathtaking views from the Vermilion River boardwalk in historic Harbour Town. Trees, beautiful planters, benches, picnic tables and more provide a wonderful park-like setting to watch boats sail along the river. Public boat docks are available along McGarvey's landing by the Vermilion Port Authority. Many festivities take place at the boardwalk including rubber ducky races, lighted boat parades and watercraft races.
Featuring one of the most beautiful beaches along Lake Erie, this private park is open to the public. A family car pass is offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays for $30 and daily room rentals are available above the Stand June 10 through Labor Day. Historic Linwood Park features great picnic areas, basketball and volleyball courts, tennis, shuffleboard and an ice cream stand. Historic cottage rentals are also available. Located at 4920 Liberty Avenue. For more information call (440) 967-4237.
Old Woman Creek
Old Woman Creek National Estuarine Research Reserve, a National Estuarine Research Reserve, is located just west of Vermilion on the south-central shore of Lake Erie. Old Woman Creek is one of Ohio’s few remaining examples of a natural estuary. As a transition zone between land and water, the site contains a variety of habitats including marshes and swamps, upland forests, open waters of the estuary, tributary streams, barrier beach and near shore Lake Erie. The Reserve supports a diverse and important assemblage of native plants and animals representative of freshwater estuaries. Old Woman Creek estuary is of particular regional and national significance because it is the only National Estuarine Research Reserve on the Great Lakes and the only freshwater estuary in the National System. The Visitor/Research Center overlooks the eastern shore of the estuary. The Center also provides laboratories for ecological research and serves as a focal point for public visitation and educational programs.
The mission of Erie MetroParks is to preserve, conserve, protect, and enhance the natural and unique historical resources of the park district. Further, to provide opportunities for visitors and residents to use, enjoy, understand and appreciate these resources in a responsible, sustainable manner. Over fourteen Erie Metroparks and reservations are found near Vermilion, Ohio.
Businesses and organizations, this project will bring new visitors, your potential customers and members, to town.
If you’re an individual, family or group wanting to participate, click here.
Buoys come with instructions and tips for decorating. It’s fun, it’s easy and you don’t have to be an artist to participate. Just be creative!
You can also visit Main Street Vermilion M-F 10 am to 4 pm or weekends noon to 4 pm to get yours.
The Buoy Tree is a fundraiser for Public Art Vermilion, a program of Main Street Vermilion [501(c)3]. A portion of your cost is tax deductible.
Grace Community Kitchen is a community wide grassroots endeavor to provide hot, nutritious meals and companionship for those in need in the Vermilion, Ohio area. Eight local volunteer groups provide assistance in this collaborative outreach.
Meals are served on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 5:30 pm to 7 pm throughout the month, and are prepared by the churches on a rotating basis and presently serve an average of 1200 meals a month.
Grace Community Kitchen meals are served onsite at Trinity Lutheran Church, 3747 Liberty Avenue in Vermilion, Ohio. Grace's Kitchen relies on private donations and food grants from Second Harvest.
All are welcomed.
Trains began running through Vermilion, Ohio starting in 1853. For over 140 years the rumbling, roaring, shaking, screaming tornados have rushed through the quiet village. Ships have come and gone in this little city by the sea, but they were never the acoustic monsters like the trains which roll along like wild demons in a race. Freight of all kinds flies through the city, and as far as we can foresee, it will continue for 140 more years. Such is life in a railroad town.
While the sites and sounds of the railroad have long faded in many towns and cities, Vermilion's train traffic continues. Vermilion Ohio is a railfan paradise.
The railroad action in Vermilion is virtually non-stop, and no other railroad town offers a more beautiful location in a picturesque town on the shores of Lake Erie. Local shopkeepers welcome railfans in the historic downtown, while a variety of exceptional dining choices are all within walking distance to some of Vermilion's best railfan viewing areas. A public comfort station, located in beautiful Exchange Park, is conveniently located downtown. Three additional historic train depots provide a wealth of photo opportunities. Bed and breakfasts and cottages are within walking distance to Vermilion's Mainline viewing areas and several campgrounds are nearby. The public library and several area businesses offer free internet access.
Best Railfan Viewing Locations
DOWNTOWN VERMILION: It doesn't get any better for rail buffs than Vermilion's historic downtown, with at least 5 trains racing through town every hour. A rail-viewing platform sits in the city's historic "Harbour Town" district in downtown Vermilion at Victory Park. The platform feaures a deck, benches, a railfan information station and radio. Shops, restaurants and a wealth of historic architecture are all close by. Both NS (ex-CR, exx-PC, exxx-NYC) and NS (ex-N&W, exx-NKP) run parallel in Vermilion, coming from Cleveland. Just west of downtown, NS/NKP heads south to Bellevue. A new connector is being built in the Vermilion area.
In the downtown area from Liberty Avenue (US-6), go south on Main Street (OH-60) one block and cross the ex-CR mainline. Free parking is available right next to the mainline at Vermilion's 'Town Square', Victory Park - an exceptional location for train-watching. This beautiful park features benches, picnic tables, barbeque grills, a Grand Gazebo, a childrens' play area and rose gardens. An historically preserved wooden station, Vermilion's New York Central Station, sits adjacent to the park. There are ample off-railroad shots available for both am and pm shots. Dining, restrooms, shopping and history galore are all a few steps away.
Rotary Centennial Park overlooks the Vermilion River under the historic water tower on West River Road in Harbour Town. This award winning park features flowering trees, plantings, benches, picnic tables and breathtaking views of the river and railroad tracks. The park also features an historical marker plaque highlighting Vermilion's railroad history.
At this site the Lake Shore Electric Railway crossed a bridge that spanned the Vermilion River. The western abutment of the former bridge is plainly visible just below along the river bank. Widely known as the "Greatest Electric Railway in the United States," the flaming orange trolley cars of the Lake Shore Electric Railway transported people and freight for thirty-seven years (1901-1938) along the southern Lake Erie shores from Cleveland to Toledo often reaching speeds of sixty miles per hour. The interurban line played a primary role in the development of the western Cleveland suburbs and also carried throngs of summer visitors to Lake Erie recreation facilities. The power lines still standing along the system's right-of-way attest to the fact that it also assisted in bringing electric power to the entire region.
All along the ex-CR and ex-NKP lines in the downtown area are terrific photo locations. Spend the day, maybe two, to take in all that is Vermilion.
The Nickel Plate Station is also being restored and will serve as a second railroad museum and commuter train station. The Vermilion Train, Rail, and Depot Buffs record history, preserve artifacts and has bimonthly meetings on the Commuter Rail Program which will offer commuter rail from Cleveland to Vermilion and beyond.
VERMILION'S EAST END
Coming into Vermilion from the east on Liberty Avenue (US-6), you will cross over the NS (ex-N&W, exx-NKP) mainline. Going west on US-6, turn left onto Vermilion Road and you will come to the NS (ex-CR, exx-PC, exxx-NYC) tracks at grade. Walk along the tracks for a short distance to the east, and you will see the point where ex-CR crosses over ex-NKP. Go back to Liberty Avenue (US-6) and make a left towards town. Right after passing over the Vermilion River, make a left on West River Road, and go under the ex-CR tracks. The beautiful Vermilion Public Boat Docks park on the left offers fantastic view of trains passing over the Vermilion River bridge. Don't miss the views from Rotary Park when heading back into town (see above.)
VERMILLION'S WEST SIDE, NS/EX-CR CONNECTION
In the infrastructure work done by Norfolk Southern prior to the break-up of Conrail, this connection was a key piece in northern Ohio. Just west of Vermillion, the ex-CR, exx-NYC, Chicago line and the NS, ex-NKP line are parallel and quite close to each other. Both lines are just south of US-6. A connection was put in as follows: The junction at the north, the ex-CR line, was put in to the south of Daylon Court, a subdivision-type street. There is no access to the tracks without getting permission from a home-owner. The south end junction with the ex-NKP is just to the east of Coen Road, and is wide open. This connection serves three major purposes: 1. It can take NKP freights that had to crawl thru the western suburbs of Cleveland, and get them thru town via the much faster ex-CR tracks. 2. Slow freights can be taken off the ex-CR and routed west via Bellevue. Therefore, it should be easier to get time-sensitive trains over the ex-CR. 3. Either line can serve as a safety valve/relief outlet for the other.
The Lake Shore Electric Railway
The first trolleys ran from Sandusky to Vermilion in 1899, an offshoot of the Sandusky Street Railway, the Sandusky & Interurban Electric Railway. City-style cars prowled the rails when it opened from Sandusky to Vermilion via Huron on July 26, 1899, a 24-mile sprint. Work gangs toiled eastward to meet the Lorain & Cleveland in Lorain, another 10-mile hop. The S & I was built with an expansive eye to the future -- double track provisions were engineered into all bridges as well as into the roadbed. It was a combination roadside and private right-of-way operation. In the autumn of 1901, the Everett-Moore Syndicate absorbed the S & I and others to create the Lake Shore Electric Railway.
The Lake Shore Electric Railway (LSE) was an interurban electric railway that ran primarily between Cleveland and Toledo, Ohio. Through arrangements with connecting interurban lines; it also offered service to Fostoria and Lima, Ohio, and Detroit. The line served many communities along the south shore of Lake Erie, at a time of mostly horse-drawn vehicles on dirt roads, with innovative, high-speed transportation that rivaled the area's steam railroads. It helped to develop tourism as a major industry in northern Ohio; by serving several lake shore recreation areas (some owned by LSE and others privately owned) such as Avon Beach Park in Avon Lake; Linwood Park in Vermilion; Crystal Beach, Beulah Beach, Mitiwanga Park and Ruggles Grove (Ruggles Beach) between Vermilion and Huron; Sage's Grove and Rye Beach in Huron. It also brought large numbers of visitors to a ferry dock serving a small beach park and picnic ground off Sandusky called Cedar Point, that evolved into the giant amusement park resort of today. It was formed August 29, 1901 through the merger of several smaller interurban railways: Lorain and Cleveland Railway, running between Cleveland and Lorain, and intent on building westward at the time of the merger. Sandusky and Interurban Railway (S&I), which had begun as a local transit operation in Sandusky, and was building eastward from Huron to Lorain at the time of the merger. Toledo, Fremont and Norwalk Railway (TF&N), serving Toledo, Fremont, and Norwalk and building eastward toward Lorain at the time of the merger. Sandusky, Milan and Norwalk Railway, formed in 1893 and one of the earliest interurban railway companies in the United States, between Sandusky and Norwalk, via Milan. This line served as the earliest physical connection between the Sandusky and Interurban Railway and the Toledo, Fremont and Norwalk Railway after the merger. It became a branch line after completion of the previously planned TF&N line east from Norwalk to connect to the S&I at "Ceylon Junction", a few miles east of Huron. It was also the first portion of the Lake Shore Electric system to be abandoned, ending service on March 29, 1928. The LSE later added the following interurban lines and operated them as branches: Lorain Street Railway, which ran between Lorain and Elyria and operated Lorain local transit services.
Avon Beach and Southern Railway, which ran between South Lorain and "Beach Park" in Avon Lake, the location of a Lake Shore Electric resort park, passenger station, car barn and electrical generating station. A small portion of this line is the only part of the original LSE system still in operation today, becoming what is now a Norfolk Southern Railway branch serving the FirstEnergy Corporation's Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company(CEI) generating station at Avon Lake. This plant was first built to replace the LSE power plant at the same location that was destroyed in an explosion and fire in 1925.
The Lake Shore Electric built a short branch to Gibsonburg, Ohio that opened on December 21, 1901. This branch was built as part of a planned expansion by LSE south and west to Findlay and Lima. This goal was reached instead by joint services with the Fostoria and Fremont Railway and the Western Ohio Railway and the line never went beyond Gibsonburg. It built a new route between Fremont and Sandusky via Castalia, commencing service on July 21, 1907, and later relocated some of its lines in Huron (opened in 1918) and Sandusky (opened in 1931).
The Lake Shore Electric at its height offered multiple-unit trains of interurban cars from Cleveland and Toledo. These trains would split in Fremont on the west and at Ceylon Junction (a passenger station on the former S&I line east of Huron at the connection with the former TF&N branch to Norwalk) on the east. After splitting; some cars would travel via the Huron, Sandusky and Castalia route and other cars would go via the Norwalk, Monroeville, Bellevue, and Clyde, route. The service was scheduled so the cars would re-join at Fremont and Ceylon Junction, respectively, to continue on to their destinations in Toledo or Cleveland.
The Lake Shore Electric achieved national notoriety through the heroism of a motorman, William Lang, who climbed out of his moving trolley car and snatched a 22-month old child off the tracks on August 24th, 1932 near Lorain, Ohio. The young girl, Leila Jean Smith, grew to adulthood and they remained friends for the rest of his life.
As its passenger business waned with the increasing number of private automobiles on paved roads, it outlived most connecting interurban lines by concentrating on freight services. However, the Lake Shore Electric went into bankruptcy on October 5, 1932 and ended interurban rail operations on May 15, 1938, with Car #167 making the last run out of Cleveland.
Several physical remnants of the Lake Shore Electric can still be found today. In the cities of Bay Village and Avon Lake are streets named "Electric," running over the former right-of-way. Also, bridge piers can be found at the Cleveland Metroparks Huntington Reservation and in Rose Hill park, both in Bay Village, and at several other locations. Much of its route can still be traced in northern Ohio by power lines on unusually high utility poles, where LSE's former electrical transmission infrastructure became the property of area utility companies.
Norfolk Southern Railway
The Norfolk Southern (AAR reporting marks NS) is a major Class I railroad in the United States, owned by the Norfolk Southern Corporation. The company operates 21,500 route miles in 22 eastern states, the District of Columbia and the province of Ontario, Canada. The most common commodity hauled on the railroad is coal from mines in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. The railroad also offers an extensive intermodal network in eastern North America. The current system was planned in 1982 with the formation of the Norfolk Southern Corporation, merged on December 31, 1990 with the lease of the Norfolk and Western Railway by the Southern Railway which had been renamed Norfolk Southern. In 1999, the Norfolk Southern Railway grew substantially with the acquisition of over half of Conrail.
Norfolk Southern is currently buying DC traction diesel locomotives. There are a small number of AC traction diesels on their roster. They are EMD SD80MACs, all of which were inherited from Conrail. Currently, 10 of the 17 EMD SD80MACs are assigned to the locomotive pool in South Fork, Pennsylvania. Other AC locomotives also on the roster include a dwindling number of aging GP38ACs of Norfolk & Western and Southern Railway heritage.
Norfolk Southern's GE Dash-9 locomotives are often called "catfish" by railfans, as the stripes are said to look like catfish whiskers. The locomotive numbered 4610, a GM-EMD GP59, is painted in predecessor Southern Railway colors of green and white with gold trim and is a favorite of railfans. The work was done at the Debutts Yard in Chattanooga, Tennessee during the summer of 1994 and the locomotive received a repaint in the summer of 2004.
The current paint scheme for NS locomotives is black and white. Many of the locomotives are painted with a rearing horse on the nose, which is consistent with prior marketing campaigns where NS has billed itself as "The Thoroughbred".
In 2005, Norfolk Southern added two new types of locomotives to its roster: the EMD SD70M-2s, which when all are delivered, will be numbered 2649–2778, and GE ES40DCs, which will be numbered 7500-7719.
In September 2008, Norfolk Southern purchased 24 new GE ES44AC locomotives numbered 8000-8023 and they began receiving these units in October 2008. They are the first new AC locomotives ever purchased by NS. These new locomotives will be used for pusher service on long haul coal trains.
New York Central Railroad
The New York Central Railroad (AAR reporting marks NYC), known simply as the New York Central in its publicity, was a railroad operating in the Northeastern United States. Headquartered in New York, the railroad served most of the Northeast, including extensive trackage in the states of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Massachusetts, plus additional trackage in the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec. Its primary connections included Chicago and Boston. The NYC's Grand Central Terminal in New York City is one of its best known extant landmarks.
In 1968 the NYC merged with its former rival, the Pennsylvania Railroad, to form Penn Central (the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad joined in 1969). That company soon went bankrupt and was taken over by the federal government and merged into Conrail in 1976. Conrail was broken up in 1998, and portions of its system was transferred to the newly-formed New York Central Lines LLC, a subsidiary leased to, and eventually absorbed by CSX. That company's lines included the original New York Central main line, but outside that area it included lines that were never part of the NYC system.
The famous Water Level Route of the NYC, from New York City to upstate New York, was the first four-track long-distance railroad in the world.
For most of the twentieth century the New York Central was known to have some of the most famous train routes in the United States. Its 20th Century Limited, begun in 1902, ran from Grand Central Terminal in New York to LaSalle Street Station Chicago and was its most famous train, known for its red carpet treatment and first class service. The Century, which followed the Water Level Route, could complete the 960.7-mile trip in just 16 hours after its June 15, 1938 streamlining (and did it in 15 1/2 hours for a short period after WWII). Also famous was its frequent Empire State Express service through upstate New York to Buffalo and Cleveland, and Ohio State Limited service from New York to Cincinnati. In addition to long distance service, the NYC also provided vital commuter service for residents of Westchester County, New York, along its Hudson, Harlem, and Putnam lines, into Manhattan.
CSX Transportation (AAR reporting marks CSXT) is a Class I railroad in the United States, owned by the CSX Corporation. It is one of the three Class I railroads serving most of the East Coast, the other two being the Norfolk Southern Railway and Canadian Pacific Railway.
CSX Transportation was formed on July 1, 1986 as a renaming of the Seaboard System Railroad and Chessie System, Inc. into one entity. The originator of the Seaboard System was the former Seaboard Air Line Railroad, which previously merged Atlantic Coast Line Railroad, and later Louisville and Nashville Railroad, as well as several smaller subsidiaries. On August 31, 1987 the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway, which had absorbed the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad on April 30 of that year, merged into CSX. The merger had been started in 1982 with the merger of Chessie System and Seaboard Coast Line Industries to form the CSX Corporation.
On June 23, 1997, CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern filed a joint application with the Surface Transportation Board for authority to purchase, divide and operate the assets of the 11,000-mile Consolidated Rail Corporation (Conrail), which had been created in 1976 by bringing together several ailing Northeastern railway systems into a government-owned corporation. On June 6, 1998, the STB approved the CSX-Norfolk Southern application and set August 22, 1998, as the effective date of its decision. CSX acquired 42% of Conrail's assets, and Norfolk Southern received the remaining 58%.
As a result of the transaction, CSX's rail operations grew to include some 3,800 miles of the Conrail system (predominantly lines that had belonged to the former New York Central Railroad). CSX began operating its trains on its portion of the Conrail network on June 1, 1999. CSX now serves much of the eastern U.S., with a few routes into nearby Canadian cities.
The name came about during merger talks between Chessie System, Inc. and Seaboard System Railroad, Inc., commonly called Chessie and Seaboard. The company chairmen said it was important for the new name to include neither of those names due to its being a partnership. Employees were asked for suggestions, most of which consisted of combinations of the initials. At the same time a temporary shorthand name was needed for discussions with the Interstate Commerce Commission. CSC was chosen but belonged to a trucking company in Virginia. CSM (for Chessie-Seaboard Merger) was also taken. The lawyers decided to use CSX, and the name stuck. In the public announcement, it was said that "CSX is singularly appropriate. C can stand for Chessie, S for Seaboard, and X, the multiplication symbol, means that together we are so much more." The T had to be added to use CSXT as a reporting mark, since company initials that end in X can be used only by non-railroad railcar owners.
Nickel Plate Road
The New York, Chicago and St. Louis Railroad (AAR reporting marks NKP), abbreviated NYC&St.L, was a railroad that operated in the mid-central United States. Commonly referred to as the Nickel Plate Road, the railroad served a large area, including trackage in the states of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. Its primary connections included Buffalo, New York, Chicago, Cleveland, Ohio, Indianapolis, Indiana, St. Louis, Missouri and Toledo, Ohio.
The Nickel Plate Railroad was constructed in 1881 along the South Shore of the Great Lakes connecting Buffalo, New York and Chicago to compete with the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway. In 1964, the Nickel Plate Road and several other mid-western carriers were merged into Norfolk and Western Railway and the Nickel Plate Road was no more. The N&W was formed to be a more competitive and successful system serving 14 states and the Canadian province of Ontario on more than 7,000 miles (11,000 km) of railroad. The profitable N&W was itself combined with the Southern Railway, another profitable carrier, to form Norfolk Southern Corporation (NS) in 1982.
Former N&W Territory:
161.190 - Ch. 1 Road
161.250 - Ch. 2 Road
161.440 - Ch. 3 Road
161.490 - Ch. 9 MofW
Former CR Territory:
160.800 - Ch. 1 Road (includes Chicago Line and Indianapolis Line)
161.070 - Ch. 2 Road (includes former TOC lines)
161.115 - End-of-train telemetry
161.205 - Police
161.535 - Ch. 4 Signal Dept.
161.340 - Hump
161.190 - Yardmaster
160.665 - Locomotive Shop
160.485 - Car Department
161.490 - MoW
161.250 - Ch. 2 Yard
161.280 - Yard
160.380 - Signal Department
160.470 - Crew Bus
161.385 - Car Shop
160.485 - Car Department
161.250 - Ch. 2 Yard
160.230* - Ch.1 Road and dispatcher
161.370* - Ch.2 Road and dispatcher
160.590* - Ch.3 Road and dispatcher
160.800* - Former Conrail Road (includes Indy & Columbus Lines)
160.785 - MofW-Systemwide
Note: An asterick (*) indicates that Amtrak may operate over that route.
The Essentials Pantry is a monthly pantry of essentials items - soap, shampoo, toilet paper, feminine hygiene items and more. Essentials Pantry is open every 3rd Tuesday of the month from 11 am to 1 pm and 5 pm to 7 pm at First Baptist Church in Vermilion.
Come get what you need, volunteer, or make a donation!
First Baptist Church is located at 6716 West River Road in Vermilion, Ohio.
Main Street Vermilion works toward growing, bettering, promoting and making our town a wonderful place to visit, live and do business. You can join the Main Street movement through a variety of volunteer opportunities.
Main Street Vermilion works to support our downtown businesses through year-round marketing efforts and merchant-focused events. The organization hosts lively community-centered events, encourages historic preservation and keeps our downtown beautiful through on-going projects organized by various committees.
Since 2000, Main Street Vermilion, a part of the National Main Street movement, has promoted economic development, historic preservation and continues to work to create a sense of place in our downtown district to attract and retain businesses and entrepreneurs, visitors and residents. Main Street believes that our community is only as strong as our core, and the heartbeat of our success as a whole relies on the strength of our downtown.
The Main Street blueprint for downtown revitalization was developed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which recognized a pattern of loss of historic commercial architecture and loss of community sense of history. To stop this trend, the trust (established in 1977) developed a model for downtown historic preservation, which encompasses a four-point approach that includes design, marketing, organization and business enhancement.
Over the past 35 years, the National Main Street Center has led the development of a national network of over 2,000 historic downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts: Main Street America™. The people who make up Main Street America are passionate advocates, dedicated volunteers, influential stakeholders and community organizers who work every day to turn the tide in their communities—catalyzing reinvestment, creating jobs, and fostering pride of place.
As a member of Heritage Ohio, Main Street Vermilion works through a 16-member volunteer Board of Directors. Much of what the organization does is accomplished by committees, hundreds of volunteers, organization partners and stakeholders, sponsors and donors.
Main Street Vermilion is a State and Nationally Accredited Main Street Program and a 501c3 not for profit organization.
Would you like to join in the movement? Learn more about Main Street Vermilion at www.mainstreetvermilion.org.
Third Thursdays provide an array of live music for your listening enjoyment in several different locations throughout town. The Vermilion Market offers locally grown produce and products, local cottage industry products, art, and local crafted items. Watch as the roads and walks along Vermilion's Main Street fill up with bright chalk drawings created by local artistic talent at Chalk it Up!
Civil War Days offers food, an open fire, crafts, demonstrations, music entertainment, and touring the historic Benjamin Bacon Homestead of 1845. The Annual Vermilion Ice-A-Fair is a day-long winter event for the entire family filled with glistening sculptures, ice carving demos and more! Art shows are planned throughout the year. Additional events include summer concerts, the Annual Chocolate Festival, the Annual Gardeners Fair, the Annual Duck Dash 500, the Vermilion River Watershed Open House, and much, much more.
Trails, Routes & Tours
Vermilion is located on the Lake Erie Coastal Ohio Trail, the Wing Watch & Wine Trail, the Back Roads & Beaches Bike Route, the Lake Erie Circle Tour and the Shipwrecks & Maritime Tales of Lake Erie Coastal Ohio Trail. The area's largest vineyard and winery is located on Vermilion's South Side.
Spanning two adjacent areas separated by the Vermilion River—Mill Hollow on one side and Bacon Woods on the other—Vermilion River Reservation is a favorite of picnickers, naturalists and anyone who just wants to enjoy its natural beauty. Just next to the Bacon House Museum, the Carriage Barn offers visitors information about the park and hosts nature programs. Vermilion River Reservation is located at 51211 North Ridge Road, just 4 miles south of downtown Vermilion, by the intersection of North Ridge and Vermilion Roads.
Arts & Culture
The Arts Guild features rotating exhibits of a new Artist of the Month, as well as special art shows and events. A wealth of art galleries abound in the Harbour Town district. The Vermilion Community Music Association, which features the Community Band, Community Chorus, and the Wind Jammer Dance Band, provides professional music services to numerous events throughout the year. The Vermilion Opera House, built in 1883 in the Vermilion Town Hall, is being restored to house a premier performing arts center featuring high quality touring performers, local theater, music and community events. Ritter Public Library, which is the jewel of our community, provides cultural events, plays, speakers, book clubs, and educational programs to all levels of our community. Meeting and housing space is provided for the many non-profit activities and events in town.
Historic Harbour Town
Harbour Town 1837 (historic downtown Vermilion) is home to dozens of retail shops, restaurants, professional businesses, marinas, accommodations and tourist activities. Visit Harbour Town by car or boat. Downtown public docks are within walking distance of a museum, dozens of boutiques, art galleries and fine dining. Harbour Town is also home to a beach and several parks. Enjoy the sandy beach, recreational boating of every kind, jet skis, canoeing, sailing and more where ship building was once the major industry. On summer nights, residents and visitors congregate on the large deck at Main Street Beach to watch boats sail back and forth in front of the beautiful Lake Erie sunset and enjoy the Mystic Belle, a small paddle wheeler, offering rides on the Vermilion River.
Harbour Town features events and entertainment throughout the year including sidewalk entertainment, artists, grand parades, festivals and bazaars. Summer months feature outside music and movies and weekly events. Winter offers an array of holiday activities and fabulous shopping bargains.
It doesn't get any better for rail buffs than Vermilion's historic downtown, with at least 5 trains racing through town every hour. The railroad action in Vermilion is virtually non-stop, and no other railroad town offers a more beautiful location in a picturesque town on the shores of Lake Erie.
There is something special about preparing home-cooked meals with fresh fruits and vegetables picked up at a farm market within hours of harvest. Discover farm fresh foods at Vermilion's farm markets. Vermilion markets and roadside stands offer the freshest produce and seasonal favorites. From homegrown apples, lettuce, corn, beans, cucumbers, brocholi, radishes, cider, gourds, and fall squash - to a vast array of tropical fruits - you'll find everything you need for your cooking needs at Vermilion's own farmers markets and roadside stands. Visit area farms during one of the Pick Your Own seasons. Families and children gain the learning experience of where food comes from by Picking Your Own. Relax in the rural setting and soak in the fresh air and sunshine.
In 1919 a group of investors from the Cleveland area purchased a wooded property with 600 feet of Lake Erie frontage in tiny “Vermilion-on-the-Lake”, Ohio. They cleared the land, and using the very logs they felled, built an approximately 10,000 square foot private community center known as the Vermilion-on-the-Lake Clubhouse. The big bands of that era were soon accompanied by couples dancing on polished hardwood floors beneath a glittering globe. Those original hardwood floors, framed by the original log walls, are still there today. The VOL (Vermilion-on-the-Lake) Historic Community Center remains today one of the only wedding venue's still situated on Lake Erie's shore. The 'VOL CLubhouse', as it has been called, demands only modest rental fees which assist the effort to save and renovate this historic building.
Vermilion River Reservation is home to the the picturesque Bacon House Museum at Mill Hollow. Walk through the original settler Benjamin Bacon's house, built in 1845. The museum features themes of daily living and puts an emphasis on the community life, including the profound effect the railroad had on the economy and on people's lives.
The Vermilion News Print Shop Museum, former home of Vermilion’s weekly newspaper 1905-1964, houses two linotypes and four letter presses as well as a collection of Vermilion photographs, signs, and other materials. The Vermilion Area Archival Society stores and indexes archival materials for research from the Vermilion area and provides assistance, as well as monthly programs, regarding the history and records of the area.
The Brownhelm Historical Association projects include the restoration of the Brownhelm Heritage Museum, the Historic Brownhelm School & Museum, and three local historic cemeteries (Brownhelm Cemetery, Brown’s Lake Road Cemetery, & Rugby Cemetery)..
Bacon House Museum
Surrounded by tall trees and a split-rail fence, you can't miss the picturesque Bacon House Museum and Carriage Barn at Vermilion River Reservation's Mill Hollow. Walk through the original settler Benjamin Bacon's house, built in 1845. The museum features themes of daily living and puts an emphasis on the community life in Brownhelm, including the profound effect the railroad had on the economy and on people's lives. The museum is located at 51211 N. Ridge Road in Vermilion and is typically open on Sundays during during the Spring and Summers and during special events during the Fall and Winter. Call (440) 967-7310 for more information.
In 1817, Benjamin Bacon settled with his family along the top of the cliffs overlooking an oxbow in the Vermilion River that would eventually be called Mill Hollow. Soon afterwards, and at an early age, Benjamin was elected to the prestigious position of Justice of the Peace, and in 1824 was selected as one of the first commissioners for Lorain County. In 1835 he purchased an interest in a saw and grist mill that had been relocated to the oxbow in the river. A mill race was cut across the oxbow to increase the water power that turned the mill’s large water wheel. The mills were very successful and by 1845 had provided Benjamin the means to build a nice house across the road. When he died in 1868 at the age of 78, the house and mills were sold to John Heymann, a German immigrant new to the area.
Frederick Bacon was born in 1840, the youngest son of Benjamin and Anna, Benjamin’s third wife. In 1860, he enlisted in the Union army and fought in the Civil War for four years, after which he returned home to his wife Abigail (formerly Abigail Wells) and started a family in Brownhelm. In 1879, John Heymann sold the mills to Frederick Bacon. They’d been modernized with steam power after a fire destroyed them in October of 1876 which started after the close of business. Frederick now not only owned the mills, but also owned land in Geauga county and coal fields in Iowa. This diversity was very fortunate because with the advent of the railroad, fewer farmers needed to mill their grain locally and many local residents weren’t even farmers, but rather worked at the sandstone quarries instead. By 1901, the mills were no longer profitable and had to be sold and dismantled.
Frederick and Abigail Bacon
Frederick and Abigail had nine children, seven of whom never married. After Frederick’s death in 1901, his children continued to farm the river valley. By the late 1920s, only Sarah and Charles remained, and the house was rented to several people for decades until Charles’ death in 1957. Dorothy Bacon DeMuth, a distant cousin, inherited the property and donated it to the newly formed Lorain County Metro Parks. The Vermilion River Reservation became the first park in the Lorain County Metro Parks. The Bacon House was opened as a house museum in 1962 with the help of the Lorain County Historical Society. Today, the house is open Sundays and Holidays, Memorial Day to Labor Day, and scheduled private tours throughout the year.
Vermilion News Print Shop Museum
The Vermilion News Print Shop Museum, in Downtown Vermilion, served as a print shop and a weekly newspaper from 1905 to 1964. The print shop houses two linotypes (c.1915), and 4 letter presses: A Stonemetz 2 revolution newspaper press (c.1919); a Kelly press (c.1917); a Chandler & Price 8"x12" Gorden Jobber Press (c.1900); and a Heidelberg windmill Press (c.1954). There is a book bindary and storage room with a manual paper cutter, electric stapler, and a manual hole punch machine.
The building was built in 1904 by Caselton Roscoe of Milan, Ohio for his son and daughter-in-law, Pearl and Bessie Roscoe, to house the business. There is an apartment above the shop where the Roscoe's lived and raised their two daughters.
Today the apartment has become part of the museum featuring historical artifacts from the printer's family, as well as those from Vermilionites of the past.
The Brownhelm Historical Association is renovating the former Brownhelm School (1889-1988) located at 1940 North Ridge Road. The Historic Brownhelm School & Museum offers a place for meetings, hosts the annual Brownhelm Community Christmas, provides events for the community, and hosts fundraisers such as the annual Grandma’s Attic Sale.
Upstairs classrooms house museum space displaying historical artifacts from the school’s past and from notable historical locations such as Swifts Mansion and the Light of Hope Orphanage.
The Brownhelm Historical Association maintains the Brownhelm Heritage Museum at 1355 Claus Road, Vermilion. Built in 1870, it was formerly the German Evangelical and Reformed Church and was given to the association by its last 3 remaining members. The church was restored and it now houses many artifacts of Brownhelm history.
Vermilion is home to two golf courses.
The 18-hole "Willow Creek" course at the Willow Creek Golf Club facility in Vermilion, Ohio features 6,356 yards of golf from the longest tees for a par of 72. The course rating is 68.1 and it has a slope rating of 108. Designed by Dick Palmer, the Willow Creek golf course opened in 1945.
The 9-hole "Vermilion" course at the Vermilion Country Club facility in Vermilion, Ohio features 3,285 yards of golf from the longest tees for a par of 36. Vermilion golf course opened in 1914.
Historic Harbour Town 1837
In 1919 a group of investors from the Cleveland area purchased a wooded property with 600 feet of Lake Erie frontage in tiny “Vermilion-on-the-Lake”, Ohio. They cleared the land, and using the very logs they felled, built an approximately 10,000 square foot private community center known as the Vermilion-on-the-Lake Clubhouse.
The big bands of that era were soon accompanied by couples dancing on polished hardwood floors beneath a glittering globe. Those original hardwood floors, framed by the original log walls, are still there today. Soon, “Vermilion-on-the-Lake” became a summer playground and a sparkling jewel for well-to-do residents of western Cleveland.
These pre-Depression era high rollers purchased summer cottages throughout the area and shared access to the clubhouse’s 600-foot pristine and sandy beach. Ladies with parasols strolled the boardwalk of the “Atlantic City of the Midwest”. As late as the 1950’s, top-notch entertainment attracted society’s elite to the “V.O.L.” to see the big bands of the day, including the leading edge sounds of the “Chuck Berry Trio” performing their hit “Maybellene” one summer Tuesday night in 1955.
But, alas, the luster faded. Rising lake levels reclaimed the pristine beach, the economy turned sour and many lot owners looked to sell. Maintenance waned and the original owners agreed to deed the property over to the “Vermilion-on-the-Lake Lot Owners Association”.
During the 1960’s “Vermilion-on-the-Lake”, which had been an incorporated village, was annexed by the then “Village of Vermilion” to create the current “City of Vermilion”.
The VOL (Vermilion-on-the-Lake) Historic Community Center remains today one of the only wedding venue's still situated on Lake Erie's shore. The 'VOL CLubhouse', as it has been called, demands only modest rental fees which assist the effort to save and renovate this historic building.
The Vermilion-on-the-Lake Historic Community Center Charitable Trust is a non-profit corporation formed under the laws of the State of Ohio as a service organization. Besides the restoration and operation of the Historic Community Center, their mission includes community service, involvement in the security of the area through our "Block Watch" program, providing a venue for community fellowship and political discussion, and providing education to our citizens about the history and culture of our area.
Through an affiliation with the Lorain County Historical Society, they seek to emphasize the historic nature of this unique building and encourage the businesses and foundations tasked with preserving our heritage to lend a hand in restoring the Historic Community Center to its once glorious condition.
VOL Historic Community Center is located at 3780 Edgewater Blvd, Vermilion, Ohio 44089. Phone: (440) 967-4118.
Lake Erie is the 10th largest lake on Earth. It is bounded on the north by the Canadian province of Ontario, on the south by the U.S. states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York, and on the west by the state of Michigan. The lake is named after the Erie tribe of Native Americans who originally lived along its southern shore.
Ohio Magazine chose Vermilion, Ohio at the "Best Port Stroll" in Ohio. The wealth of attractions so close to protected dockage makes Vermilion a very popular cruising destination. Rare is the port of call with as much to offer.
Several Vermilion marinas and boating supply stores cater to your nautical needs. The Vermilion Marine Business Association members offer a wide array of services to meet the needs of the boating public.
The Vermilion Port Authority invites you to visit our Vermilion Public Guest Docks. You are in the center of Vermilion's historical district and within easy walking distance of many quaint specialty shops, groceries, ice, restaurants, fast food, historical homes, overnight accommodations, professional services and the Main Street Beach.
Swimmers of all ages enjoy our sandy beaches located in Historic Downtown Vermilion. Recreational boating of every kind, jet skis, canoeing, and sail boats adorn the Vermilion harbor, where ship building was once the major industry.
On summer nights, residents and visitors congregate on the large deck at Main Street Beach to watch boats sail back and forth in front of the beautiful Lake Erie sunset and enjoy the Mystic Belle, a small paddle wheeler, offering rides on the Vermilion River. Also, in the summer the children of our community attend Sail Camp where they learn water safety and sailing supervised by members of our world-renowned women’s sailing crew, Team Flamingo, winners of the Japanese Invitational J24 in 1994 in Japan.
Lake Erie Shores & Islands is the Midwests hottest, most exciting vacation destination. Located on the southern shore of Lake Erie, the area offers all the calm and relaxation of a coastal vacation as well as many exciting and diverse amusements to please the whole family. Located halfway between Toledo & Cleveland, on the southern shore of Lake Erie, Lake Erie Shores & Islands offers so many attractions for the whole family! From amusement parks, to museums, to watersports, to natural areas and more - everyone will find a great reason to...Explore the Shore Next Door!
Lake Erie Islands
Did you know you could escape to an island, just off the shores near Vermilion? The islands are a Midwest vacation hot spot. Just a short drive to a ferry ride from the mainland, or visit by boat, and you'll forget you are in Ohio! Whatever your pleasure, coastal relaxation or on-the-go excitement, the islands have got it covered! And it's all just minutes away from historic Vermilion, Ohio.
Kelleys Island, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is an outdoor-lovers paradise, while Put-in-Bay, on South Bass Island, appeals with abundant shopping and entertainment. You can also visit Middle Bass Island, which is dominated by vineyards, old homes, summer cottages, and a campground. Canada's Pelee Island is also accessible by ferry from Sandusky, but does require planning for an overnight stay - the ferry visits Sandusky only once a day in peak season.
The Lake Erie Islands can only be reached by boat or plane. Cars are permitted on all the islands; however, you’ll have greater freedom to discover each island’s natural beauty by bicycle or golf cart. Rental shops are located within walking distance of the islands’ ferry docks.
Kelleys Island is a nature-lovers’ paradise, whose modest commercial development lends to its appeal. Rent bicycles or golf carts to explore the scenic countryside, visit the largest prehistoric glacial grooves in existence, catch a bite to eat at an island eatery, or simply lounge at the Kelleys Island State Park beach. The island’s appeal ranges from natural spaces to rousing nightlife. Birds, wildlife, and hiking trails are abundant,. Enjoy miniature golf, volleyball, horseshoes, one-of-a-kind island shops and confectioneries, and making memories that will last a lifetime.
South Bass Island (Put-in-Bay)
Put-in-Bay is a colorful, Victorian village on South Bass Island . Nightlife and live entertainment rule the summer weekends on this festive island, with national and regional musical acts and comedians. The island boasts a waterfront park, unique shops, eateries, and historical attractions. Explore caves, take a spin on a carousel, and sample the local vintage. Don’t miss Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial, a 353-foot Greek Doric column that is the second tallest free-standing monument in the U.S. It commemorates Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry’s defeat of the British in the 1813 Battle of Lake Erie and stands as a memorial celebrating lasting peace between the U.S. and Canada . Take the elevator to the observation platform for a spectacular view.
Middle Bass Island
Explore this island dominated by vineyards, old homes, summer cottages, and a campground. There are few man-made diversions here; instead, many attractions are nature-made: a rocky shoreline, expansive views, and interior wetlands. The Kuehnle Wildlife Area protects a variety of plants and animals. Its 20-acre pond is a favorite spot with bird watchers and fishermen. Still in development, the new Middle Bass Island State Park currently provides limited marina facilities and hiking trails.
Just minutes from Vermilion, discover the Lake Erie Islands.
Art and creativity play an important part in historic downtown Vermilion. The Main Street Vermilion Arts Guild inspires and encourages artistic expression through their members — all local artists and craftsmen who display their work at the gallery inside the Main Street Vermilion Building at 685 Main Street. The gallery features watercolors and acrylics, photography, original jewelry, woodworking, ceramics and pottery, and more. Artwork changes with each approaching season.
During show dates, the Vermilion Arts Guild Gallery is open Monday thru Friday from 10 am to 4 pm and Saturday and Sunday from 12 pm to 4 pm. Look for these special shows featuring original works of arts from local artists and fine craftsmen. Shows change seasonally.
The Vermilion Arts Guild series of workshops is designed for a variety of skill levels and interest in mediums. Taught by experienced members of the Guild, the workshops are conducted on Saturdays. You're encouraged to bring a lunch or order carry out at one of Vermilion's local restaurants. Workshops are held at the Main Street Building at 685 Main Street. There's lots of parking in nearby city lots.
If you are interested in joining the Vermilion Arts Guild, please complete the online form with your information at https://www.mainstreetvermilion.org/artsguildapplication
In order to become a member of the Arts Guild you must:
- Meet with the Show and Membership Committees for orientation and go over by-laws, information, and expectations.
- Have artwork (all mediums) juried at an Arts Guild Meeting (these occur the third Monday in March, June, September and November at 7 pm in the Main Street Building).
- If your artwork is accepted, you must become a member of Main Street Vermilion.
- Share in working shifts at different Art Shows throughout the year.
- Attend a minimum of two Arts Guild meetings each year and/or participate on a committee.
Langston married Caroline Wall, a senior in the literary department at Oberlin, settled in Brownhelm, OH and established a law practice. He quickly involved himself in town matters. In 1855 Langston became the country's first black elected official when he was elected town clerk of the Brownhelm Township.
Langston moved to Oberlin in 1856 where he again involved himself in town government. From 1865 - 1867 he served as a city councilman and from 1867-1868 he served on the Board of Education. His law practice established and respected, Langston handled legal matters for the town. Langston vigilantly supported Republican candidates for local and national office. He is credited with helping to steer the Ohio Republican party towards radicalism and a strong antislavery position. He conspired with John Brown to raid Harpers Ferry.
Langston organized black volunteers for the Union cause. As chief recruiter in the West, he assembled the Massachusetts 54th, the nation's first black regiment, and the Massachusetts 55th and the 5th Ohio. He was a founding member and president of the National Equal Rights League, which fought for black voting rights. During the Civil War Langston recruited African Americans to fight for the Union Army. After the war, he was appointed inspector general for the Freedmen's Bureau, a federal organization that helped freed slaves. He was the first African American to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court. Selected by the Black National Convention to lead the National Equal Rights League in 1864, Langston carried out extensive suffrage campaigns in Ohio, Kansas and Missouri. Langston's vision was realized in 1867, with Congressional approval of suffrage for black males.
Langston moved to Washington, DC in 1868 to establish and serve as dean of Howard University's law school — the first black law school in the country. He was appointed acting president of the school in 1872. In 1877 Langston left to become U.S. minister to Haiti. He returned to Virginia in 1885 and was named president of Virginia Normal and Collegiate Institute (now Virginia State University). In 1888 he ran for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives as an Independent. He lost to his Democratic opponent but contested the results of the election. After an 18-month fight, he won the election and served for six months. Langston was the first black Congress member from Virginia and a diplomat. He lost his bid for reelection.
The town of Langston, Oklahoma, and Langston University, is named after him. The John Mercer Langston Bar Association in Columbus, Ohio, is named in his honor along with Langston Middle School in Oberlin, Ohio, the former John Mercer Langston High School in Danville, Virginia, and John M. Langston High School Continuation Program in Arlington, Virginia. His house in Oberlin is a National Historic Landmark. Langston was the great-uncle of poet Langston Hughes.